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Ban moped passengers to beat phone-snatch thieves

Thieves would struggle to snatch phones if riding alone

24 November, 2017 — By William McLennan

There has been a massive rise in stolen mopeds used in thefts

POLICE chiefs have been asked to consider banning mopeds from carrying passengers as the search continues for effective ways to tackle the surge of phone snatches.

Green London Assembly Member Sian Berry asked Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Martin Hewitt to look at the proposals at a City Hall meeting.

Outlining the idea, Green councillor Berry said that a resident had “pointed out a tactic used in some other countries: to temporarily ban the carrying of pillion passengers across whole cities.”

Westminster is among the worst affected by a rise in moped crime, with an average of 44 offences committed each week.

Meanwhile many of the 4,000 moped crimes reported in Camden took place around Holborn, Covent Garden and Bloomsbury.

Cllr Berry said: “I’d like to know what people think as I’m really not sure this is right for London. But it’s possible that temporary bans on moped passengers in particular areas would help to identify and better target police action, as anyone defying a ban would know they might be spoken to.

“I know the police are considering a range of new tactics and think we should be listening to everyone’s ideas.”

Concerns were raised about the increasingly violent attacks that in recent weeks have seen hammer-wielding moped robbers target customers in cafés and bars.

Labour Assembly Member Andrew Dismore said: “The concern I have is we have now seen this new trend of business premises, shops, cafés, being besieged, broken into and stormed by moped-enabled villains.

“It seems to me that the moped thieves are becoming more inventive, more aggressive, more brazen, more violent and consequently as this constituent indicates, more frightening.”

Responding, Assistant Commissioner Hewitt outlined the new tactics, which included a surge of extra officers in Camden and the deployment of new lightweight motorbikes and remote-controlled stingers, which can deflate a vehicle’s tyres.

He said they were also working with the motor industry to explore ways of making mopeds harder to steal.

“We are doing everything we possibly can to do deal with that,” he said. “We have seen some reductions, but we have to keep those going and we have to improve them,” he added.

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